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Willie Carson pays tribute to leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum

Willie Carson has paid tribute to “an institution” after the death was announced at 75 of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Hamdan, along with brothers Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Maktoum and Sheikh Ahmed, was a huge investor in British racing – and was rewarded with many of the sport’s greatest prizes.

“It’s terrible news,” said Carson, who as Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey delivered his boss numerous Group 1 races.

“Has an institution. There isn’t a word big enough for him.”

One of the most influential owner-breeders for over 30 years, Sheikh Hamdan, the deputy ruler of Dubai, saw his iconic colours – blue with white epaulets and blue-and-white striped cap – twice carried to victory in the Derby by the Dick Hern-trained Nashwan in 1989 and Erhaab, saddled by John Dunlop, five years later.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum attending a race meeting at Newbury

Carson, who rode both colts, added: “Nashwan was one of the greats.

“He won four Group 1 races in the space of three months – and that was on a rushed preparation!

“I put Erhaab down as one of my greatest achievements. I took the young man’s route on the inside – an old man at 51!

“He kept picking them up, but Hamdan liked his horses ridden round the outside and, when I came back in, he smiled, ‘Terrible ride! Terrible ride!’”

Battaash (second right) was one of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s best horses in the UK

Champion sprinters, Hern’s Dayjur and the Charlie Hills-trained Battaash also carried Sheikh Hamdan’s silks to glory at Group 1 level.

Battaash lowered Dayjur’s track record, set in 1990, when landing York’s Nunthorpe Stakes 29 years later.

“They told him, ‘Battaash has beaten Dayjur’s record, sir,” recalled Carson. “He said, ‘Dayjur had a headwind!’

“He loved that horse.”

Racing globally under his Shadwell Stud banner, Sheikh Hamdan won two Melbourne Cups with At Talaq (1986) and Jeune (1994) and two Dubai World Cups with Almutawakel (1999) and Invasor (2007), the latter having captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic the previous year.

“His legacy will live on through his horses,” said a Shadwell statement. “Everyone at Shadwell is so proud to have worked with such a loyal, generous, humble and wise man.”




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